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Saakashvili strengthens the army with a new minister2009-08-28 21:44
The employee turnover forecasted by the Georgian journalists has started. The head of the defense department lost his post, following the minister of foreign affairs. Assigning the post of minister of defense to the 29-year-old Bacho Akhalaya who was accused of being engaged in the activity of death squads (special units used for punishing Saakashvili's opponents, according to the opposition) has caused a wave of dissatisfaction. The opposition is indignant, while Mikhail Nikolaevitch is talking about the need for "a hard hand in the defense administration". The new assignment can bring to naught the negotiating process between the authorities and the opposition, triggering new protest actions.
However, the Georgian experts have got different opinions on the matters.
The replacement of the head of ministry of defense has been rumored in the Georgian media within the last several months. David Sikharulidze, an intelligent psychiatrist, fitted neither into the military environment, nor into the very structure of the ministry. Right after the assignment, the journalists started saying that David Sikharulidze failed to get along with his deputy Bacho Akhalaya. According to the Georgian experts, in his time, David Sikharulidze was assigned to this post only because he was an acceptable figure both for the people and for the West, though from the very beginning, the defense administration was supervised by his deputy Akhalaya, so the personnel replacements were inevitable.
The process was streamlined by a scandalous story that happened to Sikharulidze. In his interview to an American journalist, he made a guess that the Georgian military who have been trained by the US instructors for the military service in Afghanistan might take part in a new conflict with Russia. Later on, the Georgian Ministry of Defense retracted this statement. However, the resignation came soon, though the official Tbilisi avoids the word "resignation". According to an official version, Sikharulidze will continue his work as Presidential Advisor on foreign matters.
The candidature of Akhalaya was presented personally by Mikhail Nikolaevitch at the Security Council meeting. To reason his decision, Saakashvili stated that Akhalaya is an employee with "a high-level European education" who "has got a lot of enemies" due to his struggle with the so-called thieves in law" during his work in the sentence serving system. "Today, our prison is no longer controlled by a thief in law, and crime is not controlled from prison", - he said. "It was this man (Bacho Akhalaya) who did it. I was the minister of justice and I could not do it. He managed to do it by undertaking stringent measures... That is the way we are going to work further in this system (the system of defense)", - Civil.ge is quoting Saakashvili.
However, the president's main argument goes as follows: "There is much more to be done; this administration needs a hard hand". "We have got the responsibility of protecting our country from further aggression. We cannot shuffle it off to someone else, and no one is able to take these decisions without us", - Saakashvili went on. "We are the country that appreciates peace more than others do, for we win in peace; at the same time, if one really wants to win peace, war prevention requires constant combat readiness and constant advance of our armed forces", - the president stated, keeping with the best PR traditions. The only thing is that he forgot to explain whether Georgia is again getting ready for the war.